Steal This Game: The Dark Mod Alpha Demo

By Kieron Gillen on January 23rd, 2008 at 4:34 pm.

Remember the proverb: Beware bald men carrying torches.

Upset that I didn’t notice this immediately, but news reaches me from Broken Glass Studios’ Subjective Effect that they’ve released an alpha demo of their long-in-progress Doom III mod The Dark Mod. For those who haven’t been following it, it’s basically… well, creating Thief, but in the Doom III Engine. It’ll consist of a set of tools to allow you to make Thief-inspired levels and also a campaign made using those tools. It’s a ludicrously hubristic aim, and while I admired that, I also thought that like most of these enormous projects, it’ll all amount to nothing.

I love being wrong.

Instructions and download links are there - you just need a fully patched version of Doom III. The level’s small, many features are missing (Combat’s barely there and the distance-for-strike is too short, lots of interface quirks, an occasional bug, no lock picking yet, etc – best to read the game guide before you get started ) but – as a proof of concept, it’s proof.

I have my reservations – not the least that I couldn’t finish the demo due to it not letting me use the key to open a chest, despite the fact I was following the instructions, and that having a bit of a wall you can mantle be identical to the bits you can’t is a bit nob – but it’s certainly enough to make me follow it a little closer. Thief fans will probably want to have a crack if they’ve a copy of Doom III lying around, though it’s not enough to make it worthwhile going to actually buy one yet. If anything more comes of it, it probably will be.

And the truly mad may even get into the actual mapping, since even though the actual AI and gameplay part of it isn’t working properly yet, you can get cracking on everything else. And, of course, abstractly you know what the game’s going to play like.

Abstractly. Good luck, gentlefolk.

And, to end, some screens of me creeping and dying.

Creeping.
Creeping.
Dying.

EDIT: Actually, I have finished it now – my problem wasn’t with the method, but that it was the wrong key. Since there’s no “Wrong key in lock” noise and hadn’t seen the second key – or, in fact, the second chest – I presumed it was just bust. Which shows how even small bits of sound feedback absolutely shape your experience with a game. In fact, playing again, I should stress that despite there being some stuff not there, they have a lot of stuff working – water arrows, gas arrows, rope arrows, moss arrows, plain-old-broadhead arrows, for example, which are one of the most fun toolkits available to gamers. It’s a neat little demo of what they’re up to. And the second you see the lighting, you know that Doom really was the only choice to develop it on…

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34 Comments »

  1. BonusKun says:

    It’s only hubris if you fail…

  2. Irish Al says:

    Ahh, whither Black Mesa Source …

    I’m surpised none of these remake-x-in-y mods ever have tools to translate level data from the original into the new engine’s format. The geometry at least.

  3. Alex says:

    God, I love the “Thief” games..

    That said, I don’t really understand why this is supposed to be that great, though. There’s still a healthy mod community for Thief II and Thief: Deadly Shadows as they are (although supposedly T:DS is pretty hard to work with, I’ve heard, so maybe that’s where this mod would be better?).

    I’ve never been a big fan of the Doom III engine, always looked a bit.. well, shit to me.

  4. Irish Al says:

    Tried Shadows Of The Metal Age for T2?

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Alex: Yeah, that’s the main thing. TDS is nightmarish to work with, and doesn’t let you do a lot of the stuff modders like to do. It has hard limits like level size and stuff, and has trouble with inserting new content, etc. In fact, DromED has similar problems – there’s a line on their forum which says something like “DarkRadiant should do everything which we liked in the previous Thief eds, and everything we wished was in there”.

    Irish: T2 wouldn’t work on my old machine, so I never had a chance. I wanted to.

    KG

  6. Irish Al says:

    T2 is a sod with XP, but it’s worth persevering IMO as Shadows Of The Metal Age is official release quality.

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    Yeah – I was always aware that if any community would manage that trick, it’d be the Thief one. I’m on Vista now, though, so I suspect it’ll only get worse.

    KG

  8. meatpeople says:

    Looking forward to giving this a spin, I’ve tried a couple of times to get Thief 1 & 2 running on my XP install without great success (it works, but it’s buggy).

    Using the Doom 3 engine has some obvious benefits – it’ll be GPL’d eventually, so given the all-original content and lack of obvious copyright infringement means its’ fairly future proof. The copyright issue probably goes for importing geometry from the original games’ levels too.

  9. Chis says:

    Another vote for T2X here. The writing is the only minor let down. It has surprisingly good acting for a fan project, but Zaya’s sudden shift in personality “becoming a thief” is a little hard to take. But it’s 13 missions of the best thievery Thief can offer. Possibly only eclipsed by the two-mission set Rocksbourg.

    As for The Dark Mod, it practically justifies Doom 3′s existence*. The AI is very stodgy though, making ghosting nearly impossible, and the character models have very strange walking animations. Still, it’s an impressive achievement, from one of the most devoted and creative fan communities.

    *Into Cerberon will also rock mightily if it ever gets finished.

  10. malkav11 says:

    I suppose that eventually it’s going to make sense to have used the Doom 3 engine, but right now it’s rather silly. Who actually keeps Doom 3 installed?

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    Can you think of an engine which does what Thief requires that was around a few years ago? That is, real time lights?

    KG

  12. New Horizon says:

    *Chris: “The AI is very stodgy though, making ghosting nearly impossible, and the character models have very strange walking animations.”

    Do remember that this is an alpha, and we take time to remind people on the Wiki that it is far from finished. These things will change.

    *Alex: “I’ve never been a big fan of the Doom III engine, always looked a bit.. well, shit to me.”

    That’s a matter of perception. The engine is only a part of the ‘look’ of the game. Art direction is the other. Doom 3 made things look a bit too plastic like with the over use of specular maps.

    Kieron, thanks for the write up. We truly appreciate it. We do want to be careful about giving the wrong impression with the toolset. Saying folks can make ‘Thief’ levels might be a bit misleading. They can make Thief inspired levels, but not levels that would violate Eidos IP…they could get themselves into hot water doing that.

  13. LordUbiquitous says:

    I love Thief. Unfortunately I’m part of the foolish Vista-owning minority, and cannot seem to get it working. I managed to do so when I had XP, but Vista is even worse when it comes to backwards compatibility with old games.

  14. New Horizon says:

    LordUbiquitous
    Hopefully we’ll be able to track down the Vista issues. One of our developers had the mod up and running on Vista, so we’re not sure yet what the problem is. What is the error you get, if any?

  15. garry says:

    Taffers

  16. Muzman says:

    Doom3 is also probably a good choice as Carmack will hopefully continue the practice of releasing the source code after a while. Very few mod-able engines have that to look forward to.

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    New Horizon: Yes – I was DEFINITELY using Thief as a genre rather than a specific IP-infringing setting. Clearly, I’d only dream of creating a level staring a master vagabond called Garettt. Mine is going to be about his adventures in in an enormous haunted soup ladle.

    KG

  18. Chris R says:

    Oooo, the haunted soup ladle, precursor and have related to the Haunted Shalebridge Cradle.

    om nom nom nom

  19. Chris R says:

    gah!!! HALF.. HALF related to the.. oh nevermind.

    But the Om nom nom nom still stands.

  20. Russell says:

    So Kieron, I’m sure I have some vague memory of you mentioning somewhere or other a while back that you had some thiefy mod idea that was reliant on dynamic lighting. What I want to know is, will this provide you the means/excuse/provocation to make it? Are we going to see another Cassandra Project? Or if not, do we at least get to know more?

  21. Thiefsie says:

    Yay for my namesake ;)

    Can’t wait for this to get a little more polished!

  22. Baddcog says:

    Just a few comments to elaborate on what NH said.

    Things in the write up make it seem to be what it isn’t.

    First it’s a toolset. Possible release of more missions but a campaign is not currently planned. That might come after release but more likely team members will still be tweaking it, adding content, ect…
    I myself am starting a level of my own now and have to say that the editor is way better than Dromed (I have quite a few large missions under my belt for T2). It’s easier to work with, I can work at full screen (1920×1400) instead of Dromed’s max of 1024×768.
    New creatures and animations can easily be done in several 3d programs. New creature types in T2 was almost impossible and animations were very painful with the only user released anim program.
    Polycount in Doom3 makes Dromed look silly.
    Sure the T2 community is still going and some great stuff is coming out of it but that doesn’t mean some of us don’t want more.

    The read-me does state that lockpicking does indeed work, but still needs some final tweaking. This is mainly due to how the sounds are played. This is an Alpha map that was created before lockpicks were fully functional, in fact several things in this map are already outdated. This map really shows the progress that has been made months ago and alot of things have changed since then.

    Keys work just fine on the chest and so far Kieron Gillen is the only person I have heard of who couldn’t open the chest with a key. The frob button is not used to open the chest, a use button is used. I’m not positive but it may change to the frob button by release.

    We do have at least one team member using Vista. If there are problems running Vista it is because support for Vista was added about 2 weeks prior to release of this demo. I’m sure it will be finely tuned and tested before final release.

    I agree that Doom3 was a fairly ugly game. I played through once and the first thing that caught my eye was a 6 sided pop can right off the bat. Doom3 can handle more polys than that easily.
    Also that was Doom3, Darkmod has different art and a completely different setting. Remeber that System Shock was built in the same engine as Thief but they looked nothing alike.
    I wouldn’t keep Doom3 installed for Doom3. But for editting Darkmod and playing FM’s, why not. If you like a game or the Fan Missions why would you choose to uninstal because it runs on another games engine?

    And the wall mantling thing is a height thing. If you mean the outside wall in the screenshot it is because the corner is short enough for the player to jump and grab on. Further down the street it is too high. I actually think Fidcal did a good job designing it that way. In fact there are several spots in the mission that you can mantle if you look hard enough. I dare to say that ALL of the comments from the Taffing community at large were in awe of the mantling abilities (mind you I’m not a programer and had nothing to do with that aspect of the game). I myself have found the mantling awesome and have been able to do things that never could have been done in the Thief series, while being fully realistic and plausible at the same time.

  23. LordUbiquitous says:

    New Horizon: Sorry, I was meaning the original Thief games, when I spoke about not being able to get them running on Vista. I’d be attempting to get the mod to work if I had a copy of Doom 3, but it’s not one of the games I ever got around to picking up.
    However, considering how good the mod is looking, I might have to get around to procuring a copy in the near future.

  24. Seneca says:

    Kieron: “Can you think of an engine which does what Thief requires that was around a few years ago? That is, real time lights?”
    How about Severance? That was released early 2001, I seem to remember and had probably the most advanced real-time lighting engine of its time. That being said, from what I’ve heard the actual release code was a huge chunk of indecipherable spaghetti mumble that eventually botched the console release and would have likely been proven impossible to modify to meet Thief’s requirements.

  25. 3 Stacked Midgets says:

    This FAQ is the definitive guide to getting Thief 1/Gold/2 working on any machine.

    tl;dr

    Start
    Run
    D:\setup -lgntforce

    When the program is running, ctrl-alt-del, go to process, set processor affinity to a single processor.

    BAM.

    There are a lot of codec issues with the videos, but you can just bypass it all by downloading Media Player Classic and running them straight from the CD.

    AND YES THIEF IS STILL THE BEST GAME EVER.

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    Since I know a load of you use the side-bar to see when stuff has changed, just edited a little bit extra stuff into this TDP post…

    KG

  27. dishwasherlove says:

    Just posting to say there is already a fully functional Thief in another engine (Unreal) game available.

    Thievery. Multiplayer coop thieving. need I say more?

    http://www.thieveryut.com/

  28. Kieron Gillen says:

    Oh, big fans of ThieveryUT.

    KG

  29. Alex says:

    Well, I obviously need to shut up and try this mod and then keep an eye on it, perhaps.

  30. New Horizon says:

    dishwasherlove says:

    Just posting to say there is already a fully functional Thief in another engine (Unreal) game available.

    Not the same thing at all. Thievery is a multiplayer Thief experience. It’s also a lot different than traditional Thief in terms of gameplay.